Who makes me uncomfortable?

I have learned that when I fear taking on (add your own pet hate) I miss the point:

a) “fear” has no place in love
b) “taking on” is a win and lose scenario
c) “pet hate” is a roadblock to relationship

The God I know is not of fear – nor of winning and losing – nor of placing roadblocks in my way.

I do that.

e.g.

“taking on the atheists”
“taking on the gays”
“taking on those who do not believe the bible (as they should)”
“the qualified theologians”
“the unchurched”
“the congregation”
“the institution of church”
“the lack of church”
“the homeless”
“the grieving”
“the druggies”
“the prostitutes”
“the criminals”
“the ones who scare me”

The “anyone who makes me uncomfortable (pet hate)”

Because behind every label and category is you and me several choices from now – several choices ago – several choices I couldn’t face – several choices I had to face.

I think that is why I find it easier and easier to follow God Soft Hands Jesus.

He sees me – no matter my label for me (or you).

And THAT is relationship.

.

 

I will

 

 

Dear Father

Just like when I buy a different car – I then see the same make everywhere when I never did before, so the same when I name myself compartmentalised or stigmatised – I then see compartments and stigma where I never before.

I will see only with love – I will speak only with love – I will hear only with love – I will feel only with love – so that I may then see me only with the love that you see me – and that I may then see others only with the love that you see me.

(and when others do compartmentalise me – I will see their compartment only with affection and love as you do)

Love you
((hugs))

.

 

Creating “conditional life”

“I never asked to be born!”

The cry of an angry child.  An ungrateful child.  A child who is correct.  The child did in fact not ask to be born.  The gift of life is for the parents.  For the creators of life.  The life is their gift to themselves.

“We are having a baby!”

The news of excited parents-to-be.  Parents who have left their own parents, joined together to become one flesh.  The one joined flesh now a few cells old.

A few cells maybe destined to become someone tapping out words like this in a few decades from now.

Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Matthew 19:4-6

“I never asked to be born!”

I wonder if we have it wrong.  All this biblical stuff about who can and who cannot become one flesh.

“I never asked to be born!”

If the right to life is a sacred right – then we oblige the gift of life on those who were not invited.  We oblige those we have created with our own created “conditional life”:

Here is your body, here is you brain, here is your soul – we gave you all of that –we have given you the gift of life!  So don’t screw it up – don’t be someone we don’t want you to be.  Have your chromosomes, your hormones, your reproductive bits all in the right place, the right shape, and the right working order.   Be attracted to the right gender or our gift will be damaged.  You will have damaged our gift to you.”

Isn’t that what we have made these verses?

For Christians who talk about all being equal, all being welcome, all being saved by grace – isn’t all “that” about the inside stuff – the character stuff – the soul stuff?  Isn’t all that NOT about the outside stuff: the colour, the size, the weight, the height, the internal organs, the external organs, the physical bits that we call a body?  Isn’t this being saved about the bits we cannot see, the bits we cannot explain, the bits we call “me”?

“I never asked to be born – and I never asked to be given “the bodily organs” of a male/female!”

For those who are born with the inside stuff of a man and the outside bits of a woman … for those who are a woman outside and a man inside … or any other combination under the rainbow …

Why do we use the bible only to endorse the bodily organs we can see, dissect, repair and replace?  Why do we not “use the bible” for the inside bits the church – and each Christian – teaches and preaches as the bit that matters?  Is not differentiating between who squirts in the “right or wrong” way no different to who has the “right or wrong” colour skin?  Is that not measuring and judging the “outside bits” – rather than the “inside bits”.

There are others verses about the outside and inside:

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!  You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.  Blind Pharisee!  First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.  Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!  You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.  In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”  Matthew 23:25-28

“I never asked to be born!”

Is true.

.

 

Love your enemies

How many … how much … When?
Who … what … Where?
This long … this high … Why?
No more than … no less than … Who?
Days … nights … heartbeats … How?
We are a being of the finite.
Living in the infinite.
We live in the finite.
Fearing the infinite.

Yesterday’s post birthed another and both birthed this …

 

Why not pop across to Just Me Being Curious to see what came of yesterday’s “unconditional love” … ?

It surprised me – it may surprise you.

 

Look at the cross (and measure)

 

Thank you

 

paulfg

 

Achieving unconditional love

 

If Unconditional Love

Really is

“Unconditional”

Against what

Am I measuring my achievement

Every time I believe

That I have achieved

A state of

Loving

Unconditionally?

 

(i.e.  how is

any achievement

“unconditional”)

.

See today’s post:

“These few words of orgasm”

which prompted that question

Unconditional Love – (never ends)

Good morning. This morning’s words need no snappy introduction from me.

I hope you also get “why” after this …

.

We are geared for action, getting ahead, getting on with things, keeping on going, keeping up, being true to ourselves, being who we are, being free to be who we are, not having others tell us what to do, who to be, how to be and when to be, we don’t like being seen to waste time, not to fritter time away, not to let these precious seconds lip though our hands, we will never get that time back, we will never have those seconds again. We default to doing.

And if there is no reason for “doing” we default to “not doing”. We call that downtime. Down to “where” time? To switch off, to recharge, to reposition, to refocus …? Not doing is “not doing”. We all need to slow down from time to time. Just to do in it a way which is not wasting time. That is indulgent. And indulgence is a sin. The bible says so. So we say so. And we add another default to our living. Another filter we see others through.

I saw a Facebook post yesterday from a page I follow: “Clergy Coaching Network’s” (I am not quite sure “why” the apostrophe, but punch them into the search bar on your Facebook). This particular item was: “Three Consequences of a Busy Church Calendar”  (go ahead a have a look – it is a quick read – I will be here when you get back).

My whole life has been one of seeing diaries in church – more than making disciples, bibles, listening, being available, not “doing”.  My childhood was peppered with an absent church father.  My local church life was peppered with more diaries than a blue-chip exec boardroom.  And yet … like a voice crying in the wilderness (to go all dramatic for a moment)

No one seems to find anything odd about that.  Everyone accepts that is the way it is.  And gets on with it.  Not wasting time for God.  Double-booking for God.  Apologising for cancelling God.  Having personal preferences take precedence.  Finding the world keeps spinning when one is floored with a crisis or illness (and then forgetting as soon as the crisis or illness has passed).  Because – dammit! – God needs us. Every second He needs us!

I hear how we can fit all of this living in. How we are not letting people down. Just becoming more forgetful – finding we have to squeeze things in – arriving late (or early) – doing “back-to-back” with God stuff and family stuff and living stuff.   Because kingdom work comes with demands and obligation – God needs you – God needs me!  If we didn’t – just where would God be dammit!

And then He gave me these verses from my deconstructed bible today:
“As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, ‘If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side. They will crush you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.’ “ Luke 19:41-44

(and now why there is no usual “intro” at the top of this post … )

“Paul, doing is “doing”.  But where is change?  Where is the change I offer you to become “the you” that you never believe you can be?  Where is the change in you that means you believe in me? How does that happen in all this “doing”?  How does that happen in all this busyness?  How will that ever happen in all this diary management?

You look at all the diaries.  You see all the “let’s plan to be spontaneous”.  You wince at the “we are all fine and dandy – look – I have a few slots still available – honest.”  You hurt at the “I’m sorry but I will have to cancel that – a meeting came up I must attend” (and that is far more important than you?).  And you writhe with frustration at the “corporate” methodology used in Kingdom Work. The meetings, the networking, the face-fits, the style-fits, the who you know not what you know, the we have tried this before and it didn’t work then either, the church calendar that is as constructed as the constructed bible.  I get all that.  I lived all that.  I was all that in my Jesus days.

I have heard some say that I needed to become “human” in order to understand “human”.  That I had things to learn about you that I didn’t know before as “God” up in “heaven”.  I have lived with “my bible” being fought over and used as a battleground.  I live still with all the fractures and hypocrisy and in-fighting and corporate life of “church”.  And you know what … ?

Water off a duck’s back.

I don’t want you to change the world and all who are in it.  I don’t want to do that.  I never have.  Don’t you see the journeys?  Don’t you desire the journeys?  I do.  I love the journeys.  I love being part of each journey.  It starts before you are born and it doesn’t “end” after your body stops.  Each of you is a journey.  Your own journey.  And how your journey affects other’s journeys.  For better and for worse.  And guess what … ?  Journeys are always (and should only ever be) …

Change.

Personal change.  Whether “doing” or “not doing”.  Whether “using time wisely” or wasting time frivolously.  Whether in “church” or not.  Whether a full diary or no diary.  Whether a static bible or a journeying bible.  Whether a static me or a journeying me.

Some find me in “doing”.  Some find me in “not doing”.  But if you find me and are not changed – you have not found me at all.  And that is not journeying.  That is a building.  That is an institution.  That is a tradition.

This little “journey” (of the past ten chapters) has changed you.  If it changes no one else – why should it?

I invited you to take this journey and you accepted.  I will invite others to take their own journeys.  And they have the same choice of tagging along or not.  This journey has changed you more than you ever would have thought before the first step.  Your “job” as my disciple is not to change the world and all who are in it.  Your “job” (if you insist on having one) is to BECOME me. 

And as you have found time and time again, when you cannot convince others – I demand that YOU have NO right to change others.  That IS holy ground.

So in reading the words of “that book” you have taken your own “intuition” and tested something.  Let me help here …

You have disconnected “BUT” from “what if …?”  You have now fully and trustingly connected “AND” with “what if … ?”

You have embraced your own demolition of your taught bible, your “Christian Tradition” church bible.  And in doing so you have found … love and no fear.  In short you are finding “my place.”

But in your demolished bible you HAVE found journeys.

Individual journeys of those who wrote as you do now.  Journeys that were as subjective – that “created history” which is not history.  Writing that was not “reporting history” – that conflicted with other journeys and others writing – each as subjective as the other. 

And from that “a God to be feared” was created – they liked that back then.  And more weirdly – a God which the “Christian Tradition” seems to prefer even today.  As I say … water off a duck’s back.  Because today you see doing and busyness.  Do you not think that “back then” I saw doing and busyness?   Today you see resistance to change, to trust, to faith in its purest form – and you want change dammit!

Hello Paul … !

Look at the journeys!  Every journey in “my bible” has those two elements: doing AND busyness.  Every journey is one of fear.  The fear of change – the same fear of change today.  Personal change … Your very own PERSONAL change.

So please keep writing.  Please keep challenging.  Please keep loving.  The love that makes no sense until you find the freedom to change something really simple.  To change that “BUT” to an “AND” in front of the “what if … ?”

Because THAT is where “your journey” meets ME – in MY place – MY time. 

And until you do – I WILL meet you in YOUR place – YOUR time.  That is my “tradition”.  That is my “journey”.  That is my “bible”.  Because everything else is just … “pants”!

(does this mean … ?)

I know you have wondered when … so yes we can …

Now add the book that began this journey.  Now you can link the journeys of others.  And now we can find another stone to be turned.  Another bible to deconstruct.  Another tradition to unpick.  Another change you might like to embrace.

Just one word of warning Paul …

Do not demand change in others.  I have never demanded that of you.  I invite.  I journey.  I change (at least in your eyes).

I desire that you desire that WE meet in my place and my time.  That is THE relationship of unconditional love.”

.

(hard to follow that really … )

.

The book:
“The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable To Read It” by Peter Enns

These words:
My journey of change through reading that book.

My God:
Not the same God I have been taught nor the same God as in writing “Unconditional Love – (I)”

My journey:
I desire to meet my God in His place and His time. Where fear does not exist.  More and more I learn that I set conditions that keep me from meeting my God in His place. More and more I am finding those “conditions” to be my Christian Tradition – my Taught Bible – my institutions of Faith.

The connections:
Susan Irene Fox (susanirenefox.wordpress.com) who passed this book to me.  Mel Wild (melwild.wordpress.com) who passed the book to Susan (and I would love to know the chain of connection before that!)

The conclusion:
There never is. The journey continues. If we allow.

.

Thank you

Paul

Unconditional Love – reflections after seven chapters

There have been some conversations under these series of posts. Fellowship in writing. Thought prompters. Connectors with God and each other.

My God Soft Hands Jesus has invited me to write a series of posts before.  Back in the “good old days” it seemed that He and I were wandering together through a “fairground of life”.  We were looking into each stall and ride together.  We were sitting on the damp bouncy grass.  We were pondering this bit and that bit – hearing the sounds – smelling the smells – watching the business of life – enjoying the fun of the fair – together.  It was safe.

And then this series of deconstructing the bible (as it seems to me).

Not quite so safe.  Not any fun of the fair at all.  More like opening cupboard doors that need a good oiling.  They all squeak.  They all resist.  As though they have petrified through being locked all this time.  This series feels like heavy lifting.  And for a long time now I have let GSHJ do the heavy lifting.

He does it so much better than me. I get it to see what is under each stone. I get to play with the bits that come to light. I have fun.

So why is this series “not the same”? 

And finally – through the comments and conversations made by others under these posts – my God was finally able to reach me again.  He was finally able to make Himself heard (by me).  It was the sound of His laughter that did it.  God Soft Hands Jesus laughing at a comment I wrote – a kind of “Woe is me with all this heavy lifting for God” – that kind of comment.  The burden and duty – the carrying this heavy cross – kind of comment.  His laughter is a delight (and a downer) in moments like that.  But always grounding.

Always.  Grounding.

Because there is never any malice, never any judgement in His laughter.  Just delight and fun.  Simply delight of a joke shared – and the fun of an insight “sighted”.  And because when I hear the sound of my GSHJ’s laughter (and I do – more often that I would like!) … THAT reconnects me … THAT is safe … THAT is love without condition. 

So this pausing and reflecting is for my benefit.  To discover (for the first time) that “deconstructing the bible” is safe – is fun – and is a delight (if I allow). 

So in that vein, He then prompted a dusty memory (squeakkkkk ….) 

I attended a Hindu gathering some time ago.  The whole thing was in a language I did not speak.  The language was of their forefathers in another country.  Their place of birth (or at least – for the younger ones there – their forefather’s place of birth).  That country was the place they still regard as “home”.  And in this gathering there were certain customs, certain ways of worship, a lot of do’s and don’ts.  And it seemed to be that attendance was compulsory.  Attendance meant you “belonged” and were restating your belonging (and also carried its own “tithe” of a monetary gift).

Money in this “community” is a big deal. This community had a bank balance other “communities” would lust over. They use it for both their local and global community – all with the same disagreements over “need and spending” as in any “community”.

All of that was surprisingly familiar – even without any comprehension as to what was being said (which is also familiar in my own “communities” so often).  So my memories are less of differences – and more of all normal and familiar stuff.  My surprising memories were of how they treated their “sacred book” – their version of our “bible”.

It was under presented under a small tent when I arrived.  It was swaddled in wrappings.  And it was constantly fanned to keep the flies off (inside a big hall on a wet and cold dark evening?).  It was unwrapped with great ceremony to be read from – and turned out to be an enormous book!  Not something you could carry around with you – not at all!  And after being read from – it was rewrapped and coddled again.  The fly-swatter back with his fly-swatting thing.  And then at the end of the gathering it was even more perfectly swaddled and even more perfectly wrapped. And was then held aloft and ceremoniously paraded out.

(I am guessing – to whatever holy storage box they had for it out back)

The oddest thing of all in these memories … ?

I did not see “them” in the way they treated their sacred book.  I saw “us” and how we treat our bible.  I saw the same rituals – just less “showy”.  I saw the same reverence – just more showy.  I saw the same “look but do not touch”.  I saw the same bible.  And I saw the same God.

And – just like us – they are great people!  Just like us they looked bored and connected during the gathering.  They both shared and kept to themselves.  Like us some spoke and many didn’t.  In short – “they” did all the same things “we do” – even down to the bible bit – even down to the God bit.  And these are Hindus.  Not “proper believers” at all.  “We” have that title.  “Our” God is the Top God!  “Theirs” is just make-believe. 

And I am confident that this experience could have been any faith – and any “no faith”.  I use this example simply as an example.

Another example of similarity rather than difference.  Another example of how NOT deconstructing the bible keeps us from the very God we come to worship.  Keeps Him in our own “holy storage box” somewhere out of sight.  Until “we” bring Him out – swat the flies off Him – read a few verses in a reverent voice – ponder and pray awhile – and then tuck Him back up again for next time.

We have the “Top God” … we have the One and Only God … we are believers and they are not … we have God and they only have tarnished idols of clay?

Really … ?

So thank you for all your comments.  Please add many more!  Please! 

And – before we all relax too much – it will be “back to work” with another chapter tomorrow!  So let’s see you all here bright and early, please! 

Thank you   🙂